Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • birth_control protesterEsquire has a stellar piece on the work of Dr. Willie Parker, a resident of Illinois who flies to Mississippi twice a month to provide abortions to women in the state’s last abortion clinic. It’s a lengthy piece but worth your time. (Esquire)
  • Rand Paul is a lying, liar-faced liar who tried to downplay his and other GOP members’ efforts to diminish women’s access to birth control. (Jezebel)
  • As a matter of fact, the anti-contraception agenda of conservatives has only become more extreme. (RH Reality Check)
  • Texas’ abortion clinics are closing at an alarming rate. (WaPo)
  • As a result of the disappearing clinics, women are increasingly resorting to unsafe methods to terminate unwanted pregnancies. (Cosmopolitan)
  • The last abortion clinic in Toledo, Ohio, is fighting the good fight to remain open. (Toledo Blade)
  • How much do the terms “pro-choice” and “pro-life” matter in 2014? Bustle investigates. (Bustle)
  • Circumcising men cuts HIV risk among women. (MedPage)

4 thoughts on “Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  1. The last claim is inaccurate and homophobic. HIV rates are increasing in parts of Africa that have started circumcising adults, by 61% in women. This is because the claim that it reduces HIV is always misunderstood as total prevention. This and the loss of sensitivity and lubrication discourages condom use and non-penetrative sex (as circumcision has always been intended to do). Meanwhile South America is more averse to condoms than we are, for religious reasons, and has lower HIV rates. This is due to the foreskin’s production of a substance called langerin that destroys HIV.

    The implication is also that infants should be circumcised. Considering that many of them will turn out to be gay or transgender, making statements about women in relation to male bodies is homophobic. A penis is not just something that goes inside vaginas.

    • In the commenting policy, we encourage commenters to include citations for their claims, and I would encourage you to share sources for the claims in your first paragraph.

      As for the simple statement that circumcision reduces HIV risk in women, it is neither homophobic nor pro-circumcision. It is talking about the male-bodied population as a whole and the female-bodied population as a whole, not individuals. Of course not all people with penises use them for penetration; of course not all people identifying as women use their bodies to receive penetration; the author never made such claims. Simply stating facts about the evidence about circumcision, both the pros and the cons, is not tantamount to endorsing it. I can’t speak for the author, but it seems like you are reading into her simple statement and making assumptions about what she must be implying.

      • The problem is that A) this is whites experimenting on Africans yet again, and using sexist & homophobic tropes to do it and B) these claims are being used to justify cutting children at a time when it is impossible to safely apply proper anesthesia.

        Circumcision needs to be treated as a sexual assault and mutilation of children first and foremost, and once that practice is condemned we can talk about ‘benefits’ for adult men.

        All of the discussion of MGM on this site is pretending that it is a medical procedure rather than a traditional cosmetic alteration rooted in body dysmorphia and gender roles. Its entire history before the past two centuries explicitly states that it’s intended to be harmful, and it causes complications beyond the loss of lubrication and protection in activities that especially in activities that have nothing to do with reproduction. Promoting it is racist, antifeminist and erases gays and trans women (who must pay up to 3x more for more-dangerous forms of SRS and get a less satisfactory result).

        61% increase: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22320006

        http://www.publichealthinafrica.org/index.php/jphia/article/view/jphia.2011.e4/html_9

        Everything you could want to know, including the rest of the 1st world’s views on this practice and feminists & FGM survivors who have proven that this disorder works exactly the same way as FGM & promotes FGM and other alterations to women even in the first world:

        https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ijMxwpaenEFb8AeAzjqyPzq-CzPBv48fpnBBDZo3ocI/edit?usp=sharing

        • First off, Planned Parenthood has no position on circumcision, so I am only speaking for myself when I reply to you.

          There are many pro-circumcision activists in Africa, as well as Africans who make the decision to circumcise their male-bodied sons. I would trust them to make their own decisions about their own health, their children’s health, and their countries’ public health rather than assume they are puppets of colonialists. If we’re going to call out racism, I’d have to point out that it seems a little racist to assume that any African making informed decisions about circumcision that you don’t agree with is only doing so because they were brainwashed and couldn’t think for themselves.

          We are not “pretending” it is a medical procedure. We are talking about legitimate scientific studies showing that circumcision has a medical benefit. (That is not mutually exclusive with it being a cosmetic procedure, by the way.)

          The article you linked to with the 61% statistic is not available through my medical school library, but it was published in a law journal rather than a medical journal. I clicked on the authors’ names and it seems they publish anti-circumcision articles exclusively, making me wonder if they have an axe to grind and are not the most objective commentators. Gregory J. Boyle is a psychology professor, and George Hill is affiliated with Doctors Opposing Circumcision but does not seem to be a physician (the website lists him as a bioethicist).

          The publichealthinafrica.org article that you linked to, as I mentioned in a reply to one of your other comments, is from an open-access journal that is not indexed in PubMed. With all the predatory open-access journals out there, and all the junk science that is out there, I would rather get my information from peer-reviewed journals that have been indexed by the National Institutes of Health.

          Your last source is a Google Doc. It seems to be full of cherry-picked information.

          To me, the philosophical argument against circumcision can stand on its own. While I personally find claims that it is exactly like FGM to be pretty insulting, there are certainly interesting issues of bodily autonomy and consent involved. You don’t need to go to great lengths to debunk the growing scientific consensus — if your philosophical position is right, then it doesn’t matter if circumcision has a health benefit; it would still be wrong. But the consensus is that the benefits outweigh the risks, and that it can provide protection against HIV and other STIs — though most would say the decision is the parents’ to make in accordance with their religious, cultural, or philosophical convictions.

          But cherry-picking articles — which may or may not be peer reviewed or indexed by PubMed, and which may or may not be written by actual scientists or physicians, and which may or may not be junk science — undermines your cause rather than lending credence to it. When I see someone misusing science, as I believe you are doing here, it’s difficult for me to take them seriously.

          Personally, if I gave birth to a son I would lean toward circumcision, because I do believe it has health benefits and I’ve never met a male, outside of the Internet, who gave a flying fig that he didn’t have a foreskin. Though it does bother me that I wouldn’t be able to get consent first. This is all hypothetical, as I’m getting “up there” in age, in terms of my fertility anyway, and still have zero desire to be pregnant, give birth, or parent a child.

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